PRIDE. Affliction. Strikeforce. Rizin. Bellator. All conquered. Coleman. Randleman. Hunt. Mir. Rampage. All defeated. More Sambo and Judo titles than one can count. Considered by Khabib himself to be one of the G.O.A.T’s of MMA. The Last Emperor, Fedor Emelianenko returns to the ring this weekend for the first time since defeating Rampage Jackson via TKO at Bellator 237 back in December 2019.
Born in Ukrainian SSR in 1976, and raised in Belgorod, Russia, where he began Sambo and Judo training at age eleven. After leaving high school, Fedor trained as an electrician before serving in the Russian Army from 1995-97, when he joined the Russian national team in Judo and Sambo, being certified as a ‘Master of Sports’ in both.
In 2000, Fedor decided to pursue MMA professionally for financial reasons, leaving the Russian national team to do so. Beginning his career in RINGS, Fedor suffered only one loss in the promotion, which came via a controversial doctor’s decision due to a cut above his eye. The decision was controversial because the cut was opened by an accidental elbow strike, which was prohibited for the event.
After moving his record to 10-1, Fedor signed for PRIDE and debuted at Pride 21. After defeating Semmy Schilt and Heath Herring, Fedor faced the heavily favored, thought-to-be invincible Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira at Pride 25, who Fedor dominated for 20 minutes to become the second Pride Heavyweight Champion, a title he would never lose.
Fedor would continue over the next seven years to put together an insane record of 32-1-1. He would not suffer another defeat until his three-fight skid with Strikeforce against Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, and Dan Henderson.
Fedor would fight for M-1 and Rizin until signing for Bellator MMA in 2017, where he would lose his promotional debut to Matt Mitrione at Bellator 172, before making the final round of the subsequent Heavyweight Grand Prix, which he would lose to Ryan ‘Darth’ Bader, before defeating Rampage Jackson in 2019.
His opponent on Saturday night, Tim Johnson, is a UFC veteran, having fought Shamil Abdurakhimov, Marcin Tybura, and Alexander Volkov in his time in the UFC, before moving to Bellator, where he defeated Matt Mitrione at Bellator 243 just last year. On The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Fedor said that it is Tim’s activity that pushed Fedor and Bellator to pursue this matchup. At this point in Fedor’s career, to fight Johnson, with his strength of schedule, and with a win, put himself within reach of yet another belt in Bellator, this fight makes sense, despite what many have claimed.
Despite being a Sambo and Judo specialist, Fedor has as many wins by KO/TKO as he does by submission, boasting a record of 15 wins by each, and nine decisions. Of his six defeats, five have been by KO and one by submission to Fabricio Werdum. Fedor is dangerous everywhere.
Tim Johnson on the other hand, who fights out of Xtreme Couture tends to rely on his hands, but has only one loss via submission, and is ten years younger than Fedor. Frankly, it will be shocking if this fight goes the distance.
Featured Image Credits to Bellator